Grenfell Tower families want 'full justice' as police say officials may have committed manslaughter

London police say officials may have committed "corporate manslaughter."

ByABC News
July 28, 2017, 2:43 PM

— LONDON -- Campaigners and survivors are calling for individuals to be held responsible for the deadly Grenfell Tower fire after London’s Met Police said on Thursday that they have “reasonable grounds” to suspect that local officials may have committed corporate manslaughter in last month's blaze.

Omar Alhajali, who survived the fire but lost his brother Mohammad in the blaze, said that he's waiting for individuals to be named and charged. "We want the police to interrogate individuals and charge specific people," Alhajali told ABC News. "They have named the council, but we don't know who the people are."

Alhajali's neighbor Oluwaseun Talabi, who managed to escape the fire from his apartment on the 14th floor, said the news doesn't matter much to him.

"It's what happens in the end that matters, like being found guilty, people going to jail and getting full justice," Talabi told ABC News.

He said he is currently staying at a hotel with his partner and his 4-year-old daughter while waiting for a suitable, more permanent place to live.

Justice4Grenfell, a campaign group that was founded in the wake of the fire, said in a statement that they welcomed the news but want specific people to be named, charged and put on trial because "corporate entities don’t make and enact policies, people do."

"It’s not a case of either one or the other for justice to be done and to be seen to be done, we want both," Justice4Grenfell said in a statement.

In a letter to residents of the Grenfell Tower, police said on Thursday that they had informed the local council as well as the tenant management organization that ran the 24-story apartment building of this new step in the investigation.

"After an initial assessment of that information, the officer leading the investigation has today notified the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that each organisation may have committed the offence of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007," the letter, obtained by ABC News, stated.

Police will be interviewing representatives of the council and tenant management organization “in due course,” according to the letter.

PHOTO: A letter from the Metropolitan Police to the residents of Grenfell Tower in London, England.
A letter from the Metropolitan Police to the residents of Grenfell Tower in London, England.
Metropolitan Police

Kensington and Chelsea Council faced anger and criticism from survivors and locals for the response to the fire. Council Leader Nicholas Paget-Brown and his deputy, Rock Feilding-Mellen, both stepped down.

Elizabeth Campbell was later elected as the new leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council.

“Our residents deserve answers about the Grenfell Tower fire and the police investigation will provide these," she said in response to the letter from the Met Police to the survivors of the fire. "We fully support the Metropolitan Police investigation and we will cooperate in every way we can. It would not be appropriate to comment further on matters subject to the police investigation.”

In a statement to journalists, London's Met Police said the criminal investigation into the deadly June 14 blaze is looking into a full range of offenses from corporate manslaughter to regulatory breaches.

"This is a complex and far-reaching investigation that by its very nature will take a considerable time to complete," the Met Police said. "The Met has made a commitment to the families who lost loved ones in the fire and survivors that they will be kept updated, as far as we possibly can, as the investigation continues. As is routine, we will not give a running commentary on this investigation."

The fire that started in a refrigerator on the fourth floor of the high-rise building raced all the way to the top within minutes. At least 80 people were killed in the inferno.

Survivors are now not only waiting for the result of the investigation but permanent housing as well, as many are still staying at hotels. Although all residents who are seeking a new place to live have been offered one by officials, only 46 offers have been accepted, and just 12 households have been rehoused as of 10 a.m. local time Friday.

“We are dealing with severely traumatised people and we do not want to rush anyone to make a decision,” a Grenfell Response Team spokesperson told ABC News in an email. “Some people are simply not ready to make big decisions about the future housing needs of their family. No-one is being forced to move into any property, and multiple offers are being made until households are completely happy to move. No one will be made intentionally homeless if they refuse an offer.”

Related Topics